How do cameras work?

What I will be doing on this blog is talk about how a camera works as they all work in the same way be it a compact to the high-end professional DSLR cameras.  I will be talking from a DSLR camera but compacts work the same.  The software, on the cameras, are all different and that is so I can not tell you how all that works but the way cameras have worked for the whole time they have been here.


The main part of all cameras is as follows.

  • Lens
  • Sensor
  • Aperture
  • Screen

The parts under this are more for DSLR cameras.

  • Mirror
  • Prism
  • Shutter
  • Viewfinder

I know these are just a list put when I start talking it helps to see the difference between the cameras.  As one is very different to the other as the modern camera just has a sensor which pushes an image on the screen as for DSLR you have a viewfinder to do this as well.

How a camera basically works

The photo you are taking goes through the lens and flips upside down before hitting the sensor.  Then there is a thing that sounds like a shutter in compacts and then in the DSLR has an actual mechanism that sounds good.  I have gone into more details below on how it all works, as there are alot of things to it than just this.

Most detail about how a camera works

The best way to go into more details is talking all about eyes and cameras, as they all work in the same way.  Which helps as you see with your eyes.  The images below shows a cross-section of an eye and DSLR camera.

I know the photo of the camera is not the best but then I will put another shoot up later with less detail but truth be told this is how most DSLR are on the inside.  As for where the eye is alot more simple then the camera, they both still work in the same way.

As you look at the subject you are watching or about to work with you can see the focus and work out what is going on.  the lens has a few things going for it where there is the Aperture that opens close much like your eye.  The best way to think about it is that when it is dark your iris opens up.  In other words the colour part of the eye.  Then everything goes through the lens which is where the focus is and how bright or dark the area you are in is worked out.  This in a word is the same way that a lens on a camera works.  The only real difference is that the lens for some people is not working the way they’re meant to, as for a camera it should always work that same way.

Then the image is flipped upside down like it does with the eye and hits the mirror in the body of the camera instead of the sensor so you can see what is going on through the viewfinder.  Which is what goes through a prison that is just in front of the viewfinder so it is the right way around so you can see what you are shooting.  Like most things in the camera, these are highly polished glass.  then when the button is pushed the mirror pops up and the shutter fires and this will let the image get captured on the sensor to make the photo.  As an eye would put the image on the retainer.  The eye will but the image to your brain as for where the camera will be putting it onto a memory card.

The one thing I normally say is about balance which is between aperture, shutter and ISO.  Like I said about aperture it lets more light in the bigger it is, this area is read as F stops.  So if you see things like f2.8, f11 or even f20 this will the size of the whole the image is coming thought.  The mad bit is that bigger the gap through the aperture the smaller the f-stop number.  I took me some time to work this out.

Then the shutter will let the sensor see the what you went to capture by flashing or moving slowly by past the sensor.  Which then captures the image.  These can run extremely faster in 1000 of a second or more in fact.  Then you have things like bulb mood which leaves open the to the sensor so you can see forever how long it will need to be open to capture what you are looking for.

This is one thing that is an odd thing to talk about as ISO means International Standards Organisation.  Which is a stander for film shooting, so every one that makes the film when that use to be made was at one standard, which they still use today as you can change once balanced camera setting from one make to another.  This is something that is very useful.  The lower the ISO the slower the sensor works and the less noise is done as where the faster high numbers would have loads more noise, but as cameras get better and better the less noise there is the better the photos look in the dark.

Working with a camera is something that is very different and fun at the same time.  When you start out you need to know how all this works as they all in the end work the same.


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